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DoH may ‘reconstitute’ dormant bioethics committee

By David Lynch - 23rd Jul 2023

bioethics

The Department of Health is “making arrangements” to recruit a new Chief Bioethics Officer, while a dormant bioethics advisory committee may be “reconstituted”, the Medical Independent (MI) has been informed.

Dr Siobhán O’Sullivan was the Chief Bioethics Officer from 2011 until the second half of last year. According to the Department’s description of the current vacancy, the Officer is responsible for the provision of evidence-based policy and legislative advice in the field of bioethics. They must also ensure health policy-making and programming are “guided by human rights standards and principles”. 

The Chief Bioethics Officer will monitor the bioethics environment to identify emerging issues to ensure that up-to-date knowledge, resources, and current thinking on bioethics are readily available to support decision-making.

The Department also confirmed it was “reviewing” the national advisory committee on bioethics (NACB) with a view to its reestablishment.

As previously reported by MI, the NACB’s most recently published document, Nudging in Public Health – An Ethical Framework, was released in April 2016. The NACB has not met since September 2015 and has not been provided with any new topics to assess.

“No decision has been made regarding the next topic on the work programme for the NACB,” the Department’s spokesperson told MI.

They added that the Department was “reviewing the matter of reconstituting the previous NACB”.

The NACB was established in 2012 to advise the Minister for Health on the ethical and social implications of scientific developments in human medicine and healthcare.

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